Sea Dogs, Saint John, ink five-year deal to keep team at Harbour Station
Published Wednesday, June 5, 2019 4:29PM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 5, 2019 4:34PM ADT
After what's been described as sometimes difficult negotiations, Harbour Station will remain the home of the Saint John Sea Dogs for another five years.
Taxpayers will be paying part of the bill, however, and some question whether the team really was prepared to leave town.
Behind closed doors, some municipal councillors say the Dogs were ready to leave Saint John.
Coun. Ray Strowbridge voted in favor of the deal, which will see the city providing the club up to $112,000 over five years.
“I wasn't going to call their bluff,” says Strowbridge. “I wasn't going to try to gamble on it.”
Strowbridge says the benefits outweigh the costs.
“It's not a lot of money, when you look at the benefits of having that sports franchise remain in the city,” he said.
The team ownership, led by Scott McCain, says it needed help to offset mounting losses.
“For the past six years, the team has had losses for each of those six years,” said Trevor Georgie, the team’s president and general manager. “What the city has done here is made the losses more palatable long term, and (provided) a show of faith in the organization.”
While the fate of the sea dogs was up in the air, uptown bars and restaurants were worried that history was going to repeat itself.
“It's a good investment,” said uptown pub owner Peter Ferguson. “When Harbour Station was left without a major tenant between the Flames and the Sea Dogs, it was pretty dead around here and this is great news.”
Though some say a precedent has been set that may come back to haunt the city.
Coun. Gary Sullivan voted against the deal.
“How do you say no to the Saint John Riptide when they come knocking at the door?” Sullivan said. “They are also a significant tenant at Harbour Station. It's negotiation, and that's part of what we do, and I think, in this case, the city lost.”
The deal guarantees that Saint John will be the home of a Quebec league team for at least another five years, and the city's major sports venue will have an anchor tenant for that period of time, but getting to that deal has required a six figure subsidy from taxpayers.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.